A Te Wānanga o Aotearoa tauira in the first year of his Maunga Kura Toi (Raranga) degree in Rotorua has taken out a national award for his weaving.
Cori Marsters was recently presented the Ngā Manu Pīrere Award at the annual Te Waka Toi Awards held in Rotorua. The award recognises emerging Māori artists, and Cori says he was humbled to be recognised.
“I was quite shocked actually, especially with the calibre of the people there,” he says.
Other award recipients included writer Patricia Grace, education expert Mana Elizabeth Hunkin and writer, educator and te reo Māori advocate Keri Kaa, along with TWoA kaimahi and navigator, environmentalist and waka tradition revivalist Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr.
Cori - Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Pukaki - is also an accomplished whakairo exponent and tutors secondary school students on the STAR programme in carving for TWoA in Rotorua.
He comes from a long line of carvers and studied the art at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, where he is a graduate of its carving school Pokairua in Whakairo Rākau.
But it was hanging out with his nan that got him interested in raranga.
From her, he learned about the functional process of weaving from a practical viewpoint, never realising it was actually an art form as well. It was only when he went to the carving school he realised how important the artistic side of weaving was.
“It opened up a whole other world. Until then at home it was only for family we knew who were going to the beach and needed baskets for pipi, it was only living stuff, daily stuff,” he says.
And despite already winning major awards for his weaving, Cori says he is still a long way from knowing everything about weaving.
“I’ve still got heaps to learn. It’s different being out of the usual circles I’m used and getting used to the wānanga way but it’s good.”
Studying towards a degree is something Cori never thought he would be doing and says he still struggles to accept the acknowledgement of what he has achieved.
“I was quite embarrassed by the whole thing. It was a very humbling experience.”
A grant Cori received with the Ngā Manu Pīrere Grant will aid his ongoing rangahau into potae taua (traditional Maori head-dress) with the aim of educating and reviving the art.